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24 diner

Well, after watching the Texas game last night, some of my family and I went to 24 Diner last night. That's the new Waterloo Ice House diner concept at 6th and Lamar.

The menu is, shall we say, pretentious. Aiolis and cheeses are predominant on the menu as toppings and dressings on the menu. Prices are somewhat high for the restaurant as well. (For example, a burger and fries run 8.95. Certainly not outrageous, but not when the burger can't even compete with a chain like Chili's.)

However, the menu and the prices were not the lowlight of the evening. Rather, it was the execution of the menu which left a bad taste in my mouth. After turning in our order, the waiter returned to tell us that they had run out of bacon. A 24 hour diner running out of bacon at around midnight is pretty unbelievable. Additionally, our iced tea was brought out without lemons and required us to request any sweeteners whatsoever.

I ended up with their cheeseburger, which was served on a challah bun. The bun had as much in common with challah as it did Wonder Bread. The fries, to their credit, were served hot and had a light sprinkling of sea salt. One of my other dining companions had the breakfast plate, sans bacon. She said the toast was poorly toasted, which I could observe as well. The sausage was inconsistent to her as one pattie was fine, but the next was overly seasoned with sage. When she asked for butter and jelly for her bread, she was told that the restaurant did not have any jelly whatsoever. The waiter did return with a small cup of butter, which appeared solid as if it had just been produced from the refrigerator or freezer. The only other option offered for the "toast" was honey, which was just a container of "Clover Honey." My other dining companion had waffles and country ham. The waffles were described as tasting similar to frozen waffles and the country ham was observed to require significant effort from a knife to cut it.

As we were paying out for our underwhelming meal, I overheard the manager discussing with the staff that they were out of Coca-Cola and he was sending an employee somewhere to buy eight pounds of bacon. One can only imagine that the bacon would unlikely be the "applewood bacon" as described on the menu.

Our waiter was pleasant, which was the only saving grace for the restaurant. The food is underwhelming at best and the management is clearly still trying to adjust to being open. With the restaurant being almost exactly halfway between Katz's and Magnolia, neither of those 24 hour restauarants should lose much sleep. For that matter, neither should Whataburger.

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  1. They have not even been open for a week, so it might take a little time to get it together.

    1. We had similar problems with execution when we ate breakfast there this morning. One order of skillet fries were way too salty while the other was tasty with a good combination of sauteed onions and jalapenos. I second the waffle comment above as well. If I wanted a Waffle House waffle, I would just go to Waffle House. Another big problem: my wife ordered an egg sandwich and each of the three eggs were cooked to a different degree (runny, gooey, hard).

      On the positive side, the scrambled eggs were cooked excellently and their homemade veggie sausage was unique and tasty. It almost seemed the chef spent all his/her time properly cooking the scrambled eggs and everything else was an afterthought.

      As I've found with other places, the Yelp reviews are almost uniformly positive. Not sure if others have noticed, but the usefulness of the reviews seems to have dropped off as more and more people use the site.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ebloom

        Yeah, it does seem like an awful lot of Yelp users assign 4-5 stars to pretty much everything, as long as they don't hate it. Frustrating.

        Regarding 24, the menu prices do seem a bit steep. $12 for a veggie burger? I haven't tried it yet, however. I'll wait a bit so they can work out the kinks, I think.

        1. re: ebloom

          Also wondering if maybe Yelp attracts a different type of reviewer than here.... Yelp seems much more about the social life than this site. While I disagree with a lot of the reviews on this site, this site is much more about the food than about the "vibe" or what's trendy.

        2. Thank you for your very honest feedback, always appreciated especially when you're opening a new restaurant! Austin has shown us much love in our first week of being open! So much that we've eclipsed our wildest expectations and we're running out of certain menu items. Please be patient as we work out the kinks and address the problems. We actually ran out of so many menu items that we had to close our doors today to restock and ensure reviews like the one above don't happen again. We're increasing food deliveries to accommodate the demand and will reopen Tuesday at 11:30am.

          It makes my ears perk to hear the service was pleasant, we will be sending out iced tea with lemons as well. Thanks again for your feedback and we hope to see you again soon.

          3 Replies
          1. re: 24 Diner

            Thanks for the reply -- any chance of bringing jelly and butter as well?

            1. re: exlnghrn

              Do they have tap beer? If so what Live Oak[Real Ale,512]are they offering?

              and prices on beer as well?

              1. re: scrumptiouschef


                page 2: Real Ale Fireman's # 4, Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye (both $4.50), seasonal noted on the board (which I neglected to look at)

          2. Went tonight. Noticed it still has a four star on yelp. I'd give it 2.5, though I'm not quite as nice as most people on that website. I asked for a coffee and left my ordering up to the server, though I specified no toast. I received French toast, eggs over medium, bacon, and toast with maple syrup and a surprisingly good chocolate syrup on the side-- Mont Blanc Ghana, and now that I look at its ingredients, I'm kind of ashamed for liking it as much as I did. I also got to overhear the conversations that transpired at the wait station. I now know far more about the staff than I'd care to.

            It's new restaurant so I'll cut them some slack, a lot of slack really. My meal wasn't ideal-- everything was overcooked and dry for my taste, though nothing save the toast was inedible. One egg was over medium, the other over hard. The French toast wasn't soft enough for my palate (a challah bread, sort of); I'd prefer brioche and more egg, but if one enjoys crisper versions of the dish, this might be the place. Also, there was no evidence of the vanilla mascarpone to which the menu alludes. The bacon was pre-cooked, which I expect as I'm sure they go through pounds upon pounds, but it was also dry, and I like a bit of grease (perhaps I should have specified). The toast was burnt with seemingly no butter applied, a dearth of jam still extant throughout the restaurant, though the chocolate sufficed for a couple of bites. It also seemed superfluous given my meal. The coffee was good, but not the Paggi House blend that I'm sure they could get, and the lack of a spoon with the service of cream and sugar a bit odd (not to mention an Asian-inspired cube of a ramekin for the cream). I'll just go ahead and get it all out, so that I can get to the cutting some slack component: extra settings weren't cleared, the waiters have been trained perhaps too well in shouting "corner" and "door" during less than peak service times, the lights on the booths need to be cleaned from the inside, and they should really find a different bread purveyor.

            Onto the cutting of slack: It's already better (and cheaper) than Katz's, which I might rate a one on a good day. The staff is pleasant. On that note, my waiter could have ordered something far more expensive and I wouldn't have complained, so I'll give him credit for not trying to boost his PPA exclusively through my meal. The restaurant, despite the boothside lights, is remarkably dust-free for something straight out of construction. The silverware has a nice heft and nifty design, and the napkins are a solid black cloth. My food was reasonably priced-- a little over twelve dollars with coffee and tax, which is less than I'd pay at Katz's, slightly more than what I'd pay at Magnolia, and probably about what I'd pay at Kerbey. The portion size was good for me: it was on the larger side, but not overkill, with three or four pieces of bacon, two eggs, and a piece of toast cut into halves, in addition to the two pieces of French toast. And the bathrooms have artful sinks (the men's room also had a spare bus pass this evening, which some might see as a bonus).

            For one week in, they're doing well and I'm sure they'll continue to improve.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bubbleboy79

              We went for breakfast last Sunday and were pretty impressed at the potential. Though it was 9am, the whole menu was in play so I had the burger. :) It was pretty well seasoned and not too dry or too juicy. The bun was decent but a little too sweet for me. I'd give it a solid B, a bit behind counter cafe but better than most burgers in the area. I also had a side of mac & cheese that was forgettable. Someone at the table had a veggie burger and it looked really good--it was very red so I assume beets were afoot and I'll get that next time. The other breakfast items at the table looked ok--though there were some raves about the oatmeal.

              There seemed to be 8-10 beers on tap, but that's not my thing so I can't speak to which ones they have.

              As bubbleboy states, this place smokes Katz out of the water. I think for breakfast I'll stick with Counter Cafe but 24 Diner is definitely a good addition to the area.

              1. re: Carter B.

                Carter B., what was the wait like on a Sunday morning? I used to love going to Counter Cafe for Sat/Sun breakfast, but the last time I was there I waited an hour for a table and haven't been back. Could've run to the store and bought/cooked my own dang eggs in that amount of time. I wonder how large 24 diner is-- I assume they are already busy, but is the wait for a table less unbearable?

                Always searching for a mid-range brunch joint without a 2 hour wait. (I'm glaring at you South Congress Cafe/Enoteca)

                1. re: femmenikita

                  Two weeks ago Sunday there was no wait at 9am. By the time we left at 10 there maybe have been a 5-10 minute wait. They have probably 30 tables so definitely better than Counter Cafe for seating. I'd try CC first and if they are busy, go to 24.

                  Not to get too sidetracked on brunch, but have you had brunch at Frank yet? We went last weekend. The fried chicken was outstanding. They also had a sausage flight menu item that sounded intriguing. Shrimp & grits were so-so. Bacon waffle that came with the chicken was good but not piping hot & fresh.

            2. I've been twice. They're still working out kinks, for sure. I've had tasty food & not so tasty food each time. I hope the kitchen will become consistent, quickly. The servers are very friendly, which is nice. Can't stand snooty waitstaff or worse, indifferent staff. On the first visit, the ham & cheese frittata was delicious but the salad served with it had super salty dressing. On my second visit the pork belly sandwich was meh. Its only flavor was the toppings. Not what I expect from lush pork belly. And by "lush" I mean fatty bacon deliciousness.

              1. Quick Update on 24 Diner. My wife and I went based on a recommendation from some friends of ours. We went at around 11:30 on a Sunday morning and the place was hopping. About an 8 minute wait for a 2- top. Coffee was very good. We ordered the Waffle Breakfast and the Patty Melt with a fried egg on top.

                The Waffle Breakfast is a whole waffle, eggs, and your choice of sausage, bacon, or veggie sausage. My wife opted for the veggie sausage, and she really enjoyed it. I tried a bit, and was impressed. Its made with a variety of nuts, grains, and vegetables, but the ingredient that stood out was beets. It made the veggie sausage a deep red, but it added a nice balance of mellow sweetness from the caramelization of the cooking process. It balanced well with the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds and the sage. The eggs were good, and had good flavor. The waffle was also very good, although personal preferences mean a lot here. My wife really liked that the waffle was "flavored with vanilla and was already somewhat sweet. She said she hardly had to put any syrup. I personally prefer a non -sweet, slightly salty more neutral tasting waffle and let the syrup do the sweetening. We both agreed that the waffle was a little doughy. We like crisp and airy. But the waffle was definitely good, and we are being picky here.

                Now for the burger, which is the main reason I am posting. I ordered the patty melt, and since it was brunch time, I opted for a fried egg on it. I noticed on the menu that they mentioned that their burgers are made from fresh ground natural brisket and are cooked medium well. This was very intriguing to me, and I was curious as to how the burger would come out.

                Taste-wise, the burger was spectacular. It was a patty melt, so there was griddle toasted sourdough, real gruyere and caremelized onions. The patty (made from brisket) exuded a lot of juice or should I say jus, because it ended up creating a french dip effect which was fabulous if a tad bit messy. In a nutshell, the burger tasted like french onion soup in solid form and I loved it. The egg yolk from the fried egg was icing on the cake.

                Texture-wise, the brisket patty was interesting. I don't like a lot of chew in my burger, and this didn't have a lot of chew, but you could definitely tell that this wasn't ground chuck. There was a little bit of chew to the patty, which I actually enjoyed. But I also like my burgers on the rare side, and I'm guessing that brisket on the rarer side might be a little tough to swallow (pun definitely intended.) But the beefy flavor of the brisket and the extra juice it exuded made up for the doneness of the burger.

                One thing to note. The extra juice from the patty made the bottom piece of sourdough soggy, not unlike a french dip sandwich. This is not a bad thing, but it can be a little messy.
                Fries were good, but next time, I would order a salad or fruit to counter the richness and fat of the burger.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Homero

                  Thanks for the update! I really need to check this place out. Your review made my stomach grumble a little. : )

                2. We went here sometime in March, and I was so underwhelmed that I never posted about it - the service was _annnoyingly_ familiar (do NOT come sit next to me in the booth when you're waiting on me, ever), the waffles only tasted of yeast, the music was so loud at noontime as to drown out conversation, and the coffee was foul. It's a no-second-chance hipster hell place in my estimation.

                  1. I've eaten there 4 times and each time the service got worse. The last time I was there, I didn't eat. I spent 20 minutes sitting there watching the waiter for my area walk past me again and again and wasting time talking with his friends, and I finally left. I know that a 24-hour place is going to have trouble getting servers who are halfway reliable, but the specimens I've seen in this place looked and usually acted like they just threw some slightly more acceptable clothing over some of the local street corner beggars.

                    It was probably just as well. Every time I've eaten there the results have always been so mixed I can't say it's good and I can't say it's bad. Every meal, some of it was wonderful and some was awful. The sandwich tasted great but the bread crust was so hard it cut the roof of my mouth. The hash dish, the eggs were very good but the potatoes that came with them were so badly undercooked they were almost raw. Another time the sausage was good but the eggs were so overcooked I could have used them as hockey pucks.

                    1. It seems the quality of the cooking here really depends on who's running the kitchen on any given day. I've had (and heard of others having) a stellar experience with the food here, but I've also heard of really mediocre experiences. I just love that their ingredients are so farm-fresh and local, regardless of how perfectly someone puts them together that day. That's what I'm paying more for and that's what I most appreciate, especially since it's hard to find that attention to food sourcing in any other 24-hour diner joint.

                      1. I just had my first non-stellar experience at 24Diner. I recall reading a post on this thread about someone who ordered a sandwich and it was very good except that the bread was so hard that it cut the roof of their mouth. The bread must have been the baguette, because I ordered the Chili Cheese Dog, and that came on a baguette and it was impossible to eat.

                        Everything was delicious, but whoever thought it was a good idea to use such crusty bread for a hotdog or any sandwich didn't think that one through. I could barely eat the chili dog with a knife and fork because the crust on the baguette was so hard. The table was literally rocking as I tried to saw through the bread. Its a shame because the chili was very good and the frank itself was really nice (all beef).

                        My wife had the french toast, and that has been consistently delicious as has the coffee.

                        I hope they rectify the baguette issue, or at least offer up a worthy bread alternative. I would get the chili cheese dog again, but I wouldn't have any qualms about asking for it open faced on cornbread or their brioche.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Homero

                          Ate there tonight and have no desire to go back. Caesar salad in a soup bowl could have used an under-plate, or a better serving dish. Difficult to maneuver without spilling lettuce on the table. Overdressed. The "hash" was greasy and tasted weird, and the accompanying fruit salad was sour. My companion had the house salad and disliked the dressing. He did enjoy his veggie burger, but $12.95 seemed steep for what he got. The small (very small) salad was $5.95. Even if the food was reasonably priced, I wouldn't want to eat it again.

                          1. re: travisleroy

                            I just had a similar experience there. been good in the past, but they pretty much served inedible food and then charged us just half price since we didn't eat it. what?

                            1. re: ieathereforeiam

                              I suspect shifting sands in the kitchen. When I first ate here everything was fabulous, but it's been going downhill since. Each subsequent trip here has slipped in one way or another. Hope they can get it together.

                        2. Please do not expect country ham to be tender. It's not. It's very concentrated in flavor, salty/smoky and rich, and the hams hang long enough that they gradually lose moisture. It's the nature of the beast to be chewy. Have not had country ham on any of my visits to Texas, so I don't know if this is The Real Thing or not but it sounds like it might be.

                          1. Haven't been but isn't the chef up for Best Chef or something in Food and Wine

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ChristineR

                              Yes, he is. We received a voting card with our check on FRI.

                              First time there. Good enough to go back again. Wife had the hash which was great and I had the RB Club Sandwich which was very good but the toast was a bit too dry. Some butter on it would've went a long way. They currently have Maudite on tap so it's worth a trip just for having a Unibroue on tap.

                              1. re: achtungpv

                                Was at 24diner last night. I have been a few times before and it has generally been pretty good, if a bit expensive.

                                I had the gorgonzola burger, which was pretty good. Cooked medium, nice char on the outside and a nice butter/grease sheen on the bun. Another person got the club with the sweet potato as their side. Sweet potatoes were mashed with sugar butter and were probably the best side of the night.

                                I like this place, and their tap selection, but it always seems too expensive for what you get. I would assume a lot of that is due to the location and their use of 'local' ingredients.

                            2. antonelli's is helping with a speciality dinner pairing night:

                              Wednesday, Mar. 2: Head to 24 Diner for a specialty dinner pairing with Ommegang Brewery (one of our favorites!). Of course, a cheese course is included in the evening. For event and RSVP details, visit http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid....